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 Post subject: Re: ULSTER & DELAWARE REVITALIZATION CORP.--PETITION FOR DEC
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2018 4:56 pm 

Joined: Fri Mar 05, 2010 3:41 am
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Location: Inwood, W.Va.
Local news story, with some interesting comments following.

http://www.dailyfreeman.com/general-new ... ter-county


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 Post subject: Re: ULSTER & DELAWARE REVITALIZATION CORP.--PETITION FOR DEC
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:07 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:05 am
Posts: 58
Location: Glen Ellyn, IL
Trainlawyer wrote:
Would anybody involved care to comment?
ULSTER & DELAWARE REVITALIZATION CORP.--PETITION FOR DECLARATORY RELIEF FD_36164_0
https://www.stb.gov/Filings/all.nsf/d6ef3e0bc7fe3c6085256fe1004f61cb/9b5cf023b50085758525821700727744/$FILE/244983.pdf
GME


This appears to have developed largely along the lines I discussed in my February 8 post. The big open question I had then (which wasn't clear from the filings which had been made to that point) was whether the 3R Act abandonment notices had been properly filed in the 1970's. The June 29 STB decision makes it clear that the abandonment notices were, in fact, properly filed and the line was, therefore, properly abandoned in 1977.

That drives the rest of the decision. If the line was properly abandoned as an ICC regulated railroad in the 1977, then no further STB regulatory authority is needed now to discontinue a non-STB regulated tourist railroad operation on the trackage (of course, that the landlord has to have the right under its agreement(s) with the tourist road to do this, but that's a state law issue, not an STB regulatory issue).

But here's the really important point. The STB decision also means that the National Trails System Act (NTSA) isn't available for conversion of the ROW to a trail. As the STB decision notes, that doesn't prevent the landlord from making a trail conversion. But what STB doesn't mention is that this holding effectively prevents the Federal Government from having to foot the bill to compensate the reversionary landowners for a "taking" of their property resulting from a trail conversion. I don't know the state of the property titles on this line, but if there is a lot of reversionary property (i.e., property that reverts to the successors of the original grantors if no longer used for rail service), this could be a crippling financial blow to the trail sponsor(s), who would have pay the compensation themselves. In other words, the STB decision could well be a VERY empty "victory" for the trail sponsors, if they are unwilling or unable to pay the compensation

As an aside, I've always felt that one of the most indefensible features of the NTSA (as interpreted by the courts) is that the Federal government must compensate reversionary landowners for NTSA "takings" without any input from the Feds on whether a particular trail project is a worthwhile expenditure of Federal funds. In effect the Feds simply write blank checks to whatever rail-trail projects may be pursued by local trail interests - an off budget entitlement which has cost taxpayers many millions of dollars over the years.


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 Post subject: Re: ULSTER & DELAWARE REVITALIZATION CORP.--PETITION FOR DEC
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2018 6:56 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
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Is the upshot of this that the county must allow CMRR to keep the tracks in place to keep the land from reverting to the original landowners' heirs, or is the reversion automatic now? I know it is a long shot, but the irony would be delicious.


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 Post subject: Re: ULSTER & DELAWARE REVITALIZATION CORP.--PETITION FOR DEC
PostPosted: Mon Jul 02, 2018 10:48 pm 

Joined: Sat Aug 25, 2007 12:45 am
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Robert Opal wrote:
But here's the really important point. The STB decision also means that the National Trails System Act (NTSA) isn't available for conversion of the ROW to a trail.

What, if anything, does the STB decision mean for the existing trails that were built on other segments of the same abandoned railroad?

I thiink those other segments are listed in this April 2016 Daily Freeman News article:
Quote:
HURLEY >> The town has agreed to join the O&W Rail Trail Coalition of Municipalities and participate in its uniformity and marketing efforts.
and
Quote:
Hurley is home to 3 miles of the trail, along U.S. Route 209, while Kingston has 0.7 miles, Marbletown has 8.7 miles, the town of Rochester has 6 miles, the town of Ulster about half a mile, and Wawarsing and Ellenville have 2 miles.
Link: Hurley joins O&W Rail Trail group


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 Post subject: Re: ULSTER & DELAWARE REVITALIZATION CORP.--PETITION FOR DEC
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 11:27 am 

Joined: Sun Aug 22, 2004 5:55 pm
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Location: Warren, PA
The one thing is does establish is that the STB is out of it, effectively. Remember the process though is that the original New York State charter for the Ulster & Delaware dates back to1866 as the Rondout & Oswego. How any easement deeds were written to that charter will likely revert to state law as to what constitutes 'railroad' and what constitutes 'abandonment'. A lot of deeds I've seen from that era say 'railroad purposes' leaving it possibly to a state court for interpretation. But if it is interpreted to mean the track, well, yes, then removing the track reverts it to the landowner.

At least in the area around Cold Brook, there's a group of property owners that want absolutely everything out, track, trail, railbikes, all of it. That's the group that fought the railbikes hard. It only takes a handful of property owners to slice up a trail. But as was said before, it's a really big deal that it's out of the national trails act because the Feds can't subsidize the reversionary land purchases. The ROW of the Port Royal Railroad was improperly trail converted and had a sewer line put through it, got sued by the landowners, and the new "Spanish Moss Trail" cost the Feds $33 million to clean up the landholder mess. And it's still not completely over.
https://www.islandpacket.com/news/local ... 29721.html


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 Post subject: Re: ULSTER & DELAWARE REVITALIZATION CORP.--PETITION FOR DEC
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 2:51 pm 

Joined: Wed Nov 23, 2016 7:05 pm
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Quote:
What, if anything, does the STB decision mean for the existing trails that were built on other segments of the same abandoned railroad?

I thiink those other segments are listed in this April 2016 Daily Freeman News article:
Quote:
HURLEY >> The town has agreed to join the O&W Rail Trail Coalition of Municipalities and participate in its uniformity and marketing efforts.

The STB decision (and this entire thread) is about the U&D. It means absolutely nothing to the O&W.

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 Post subject: Re: ULSTER & DELAWARE REVITALIZATION CORP.--PETITION FOR DEC
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 4:42 pm 

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PMC wrote:
Is the upshot of this that the county must allow CMRR to keep the tracks in place to keep the land from reverting to the original landowners' heirs, or is the reversion automatic now? I know it is a long shot, but the irony would be delicious.


It depends on how the original ROW was acquired. Not all ROW is reversionary.

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 Post subject: Re: ULSTER & DELAWARE REVITALIZATION CORP.--PETITION FOR DEC
PostPosted: Tue Jul 03, 2018 6:42 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:05 am
Posts: 58
Location: Glen Ellyn, IL
PMC wrote:
Is the upshot of this that the county must allow CMRR to keep the tracks in place to keep the land from reverting to the original landowners' heirs, or is the reversion automatic now? I know it is a long shot, but the irony would be delicious.


This would be governed by New York state law, which I'm not familiar with. But let me speculate based on laws of other states with which I am somewhat familiar:

1. Some states have "marketable title" laws which kill various forms of reversionary interests after a stated number of years (in Illinois, it's 40 years). I don't know if NY has any laws like this, or whether they would apply to reversionary interests in the ROW.

2. Assuming there aren't any "marketable title" laws that would apply here, a reversion on cessation of rail use would would probably be "automatic", at least technically. But, if the reversion was contested (as I'm sure it would be here), a legal proceeding would be necessary to establish that the reversion had occurred. That would probably take the form of a "quiet title" action by the reversionary owners which, if successful, would establish that the property belongs to them.

3. Since some (or all) of the trail sponsors are government entities, presumably some of them have condemnation authority. As such, they could condemn the ROW and eliminate the reversionary interests. But, to do this, they would have to compensate the reversionary owners for the fair market value of the interests being condemned. Since, absent the condemnation, the reversionary owners would likely own the property outright, the compensation would probably be the full market value of the property (i.e., big bucks).


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 Post subject: Re: ULSTER & DELAWARE REVITALIZATION CORP.--PETITION FOR DEC
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 3:17 pm 

Joined: Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:01 pm
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Location: SouthEast Pennsylvania
While this is under Pennsylvania law, here are 2 examples of sales of a railroad to a non common carrier museum triggering reversionary rights to the underlying land. About 1969, the Valley Forge Scenic Rwy. was forced off the former Kimberton branch of the Reading Company and got their purchase money refunded. In the 1980s, the Maryland and Pennsylvania Railroad Preservation Society was forced off part of the line that they had bought from the Ma & Pa, although they were able to remove the tracks. I think that something similar may have happened in the State of Washington with part of the Yakima Valley Transportation Co.
About 1967, the New Hope & Ivyland RR sold most of their land to the Philadelphia Electric Co. (probably with a Quit Claim Deed) and leased it back. However, because of reversionary clauses, the Electric Company's "ownership" depends on continued operation of the railroad.
In the late 1980s, one of those landowners found that his clause included a promise to have a train station on the occupied property. Luckily, I had listed all of the old stations in Mr. Leyland's Open & Prepay Station List tariff!
In many of the above cases, there never was a deed of sale, just some kind of permission to construct and operate a railroad over the land. Sometimes there was nothing in writing, near Grenoble, Pa., one of the land owners was also an incorporator of the original 1890 railroad and never complained about a lack of permission.


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 Post subject: Re: ULSTER & DELAWARE REVITALIZATION CORP.--PETITION FOR DEC
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 8:25 pm 

Joined: Sat Mar 30, 2013 2:05 am
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Location: Glen Ellyn, IL
Let me expand a little on my earlier comment about the ability of local trail sponsors under the National Trails Systems Act (16 USC 1247(d)) to have the Federal government pick up the tab for compensating reversionary property owners for "takings" of their property for rail-trail conversions. Perhaps someone from the Department of Justice (which has to litigate these compensation claims) is watching this thread and may find this useful (but probably not). But it is something that also should be considered by tourist RR's faced with a threatened trail replacement.

The NTSA is actually quite explicit about liability. Under the Act, a State, political subdivision, or qualified private organization must assume "full responsibility for management of such [rail-trail] rights-of-way and for ANY legal liability arising out of such transfer or use". That, to me, is unambiguous. If a rail-trail conversion under the NTSA creates a "legal liability" to reversionary landowners for "such transfer or use", that is the "full responsibility" of the trail sponsor. In other words, if the United States has to pay the reversionary owners for a "taking" of their property, the trail sponsor should have to compensate the Unites States for this "legal liability".

I'm not aware that DOJ has sought compensation from trail sponsors for the compensation the United States has had to pay to reversionary owners for rail-trail conversions. But maybe they ought to start doing so. Similarly, when trail sponsors request trail conditions from STB, perhaps somebody ought to ask the Board to make clear that "full responsibility...for any legal liability arising out of such transfer or use" includes responsibility for the legal liability to reversionary property owners for a "taking" of their property.


Last edited by Robert Opal on Wed Jul 04, 2018 9:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: ULSTER & DELAWARE REVITALIZATION CORP.--PETITION FOR DEC
PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2018 9:11 pm 

Joined: Sat Oct 17, 2015 5:55 pm
Posts: 883
Here is a case from Illinois that is similar, involving the former PRR line into Peoria (later a short line owned by Craig Burroughs that folded and was dismantled around 1980) that American Premier Underwriters (the successor to Penn Central) "sold" to the state of Illinois to develop a trail but had never owned due to it being a land grant: http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/ ... -line.html

In this case the land reverted to land owners adjacent to the line and Illinois had to get APU to pay them back. Another case in Illinois involved the Illinois Central selling land parcels from the former Amboy district (Charter Line) they didn't own, CN was later forced to pay back the money and as I recall (I lived around four miles away from the line) sometimes had to buy the land back when the landowners wouldn't accept the money and wanted the land.


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